After first testing as station 2XH, WMCA began regular transmissions on February 1, 1925, broadcasting on 428.6 meters wavelength with a power of 500 watts. The station was the 13th radio station to begin operations in New York City and was owned by broadcasting pioneer Donald Flamm. The station’s original studios and antenna were atop the Hotel McAlpin, located on Herald Square and from which WMCA’s call letters derive. In 1928 it moved to the 570 kHz frequency, sharing time for the next three years with municipally-owned WNYC.
On April 19, 1932, the Federal Radio Commission approved WMCA’s application to broadcast full-time on 570 kHz.
In December 1940, Flamm had to surrender the station to industrialist Edward J. Noble, who had just resigned as Undersecretary of Commerce, in a transaction involving prominent political figures including Thomas Corcoran. Flamm’s subsequent legal battle against Noble resulted in a congressional investigation and eventually ended in a financial settlement, though not the return of the station.
Through its early decades WMCA had a varied programming history, playing music, hosting dramas, and broadcasting New York Giants baseball games. In 1943, it was acquired by the Straus family when Edward J. Noble acquired the Blue Network and its owned-and-operated stations from NBC, including WJZ (now WABC) in New York; the Blue Network would later be renamed the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).
In 1945, host Barry Gray began dropping music and adding talk with celebrities and later call-in listeners; he is thus sometimes considered “The Father of Talk Radio”, and his show lasted on WMCA through several decades and format changes.
WMCA began playing hit music in the late 1950s with a Top 40 format. Among its disc jockey staff were future legends Scott Muni, Frankie Crocker, Harry Harrison and Murray “the K” Kaufman.
This film shows that station carrying a speech by President Truman, airing a live concert, covering football, a Presidential convention, playing records and the Disc Jockeys spinning records.